By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom
Marissa and I have inherited my grandmother’s wanderlust. For most of Marissa’s life, I put off travel as unaffordable; irresponsible; impractical; impossible. I told her she could do these things when she was older and had the money to do it herself.
One day I was faced with the harsh reality that her dreams of travel were to be lived now or never.
When a Dream Grows
The idea to travel up both coasts was deemed by her doctor to be “absolutely nuts,” and he did his best to point out the impracticalities.
However, when asked, “If I can make it work, is this medically acceptable?” He told me that from a medical standpoint, he had no objections.
I told my husband, “I need to do this. I need the memories. They need the memories. We need to go.” Eric did not object. For all the troubles we’ve had, he has never once squashed a dream of mine. Instead, he helped where he could to nurture it. I was allowed to nurture it. I did nurture it.
My dream grew as I fed it. I did not let fear stop me from considering outlandish solutions to problems. I was not discouraged by challenges. I heard a clear go, and I obeyed. On this trip, I’ve become convinced, this journey was divinely inspired. I’m grateful to Spreading Sunshine and so many others who are making this impossible dream possible.
Lobsters or Stephen King. What’s Your Dream?
I chose Bangor, Maine, because it was the first Maine city that popped into my head. I can’t tell you why, as it is not on the coast; it is not the northernmost destination; and as it turns out, it is quite small. I heard Bangor and I decided we would go to Bangor.
When I presented this to Marissa, her eyes lit up as she exclaimed, “Oooh! We can meet Stephen King! Stephen King is from Bangor!” Going up both coasts was a long held dream of mine, but meeting Stephen King wasn’t. I dreamed of eating lobster on the beach.
Those who know Marissa know that when she is genuinely excited, her smile lights up everything around her. Something about her smile simultaneously warms and breaks your heart. She radiates. Her dream did not become my dream, but somehow they merged. I began looking for activities and tours of Bangor and learned it was the inspiration for many of King’s novels. I Twitter stalked King and reached out to Facebook groups and any connection I could dream up to reach Marissa’s beloved author. As I grew closer, I dared to dream that he would hear me, despite being cautioned that it was quite unlikely we would get even an autograph. I dreamed. I reached.
As Marissa and Anneliese enjoyed each leg of the trip, their smiles elevated me and increased my drive to make this trip, both coasts, a reality. I set my sights on that autograph, and used my stubborn and dreamy nature to my advantage, rather than pressing them aside as trash. It has paid off.
I ate my lobster in New Hampshire. It was on a beach. Marissa thought it tasted like cat food and said she was freezing and wanted to sit in the car.
This wasn’t her dream. You can’t force a dream. But I didn’t let her end mine. I walked along the coast and listened to the waves. I thought about how far we had come figuratively and literally. And then Anneliese and I got back in the car with our ankles still wet and our feet covered in sand, and we continued north to Bangor.
Watching Marissa’s dream unfold was a gift. It turns out, when you nurture someone else’s dream, when you actively encourage and participate in its fulfillment, their joy becomes your own. The light from Marissa as she received her autographed “galley” and letter from author Stephen King lit something in me as well. It was warm and radiant and also heartbreaking.
This trip was a dream for us. We are living that dream. Ridiculousness and discouragement have crept in, but we have not stopped. There was a moment that Marissa wanted to quit, and I questioned whether that was the right choice medically.
When I asked her doctor, the response was this: “I still think you are nuts; in fact I thought this was a terrible idea. But don’t quit. I was wrong. This is the best thing you could have done for your girls. Don’t you dare let her give up. Keep going.”
I’ve tried living the dreams others set before me. It doesn’t satisfy. It leaves a hole. You may hate travel and the thought of 9,000 miles in the car may make you ill. That’s OK. It’s not your dream. It is mine.
Reach for Your Dream and Try to Catch It
Consider your dream; dream big; let go of your fear and reach for it. You may not catch it the first time, but continue. The challenges and failures make you stronger and prepare you for the time that you do take hold. Nurture the dreams of your children. Encourage them; feed their dreams and imagination. So much is possible when someone believes in you.
Don’t just stand on the sidelines yelling encouragement, walk the dream with them. Bulldoze the obstacles you can. Allow some struggle to build them up. Let them fall but be there to clean their wounds and put them back on their path.
Dream. Don’t ever stop dreaming. Do not let practicality direct your steps, but let God direct them. Love those around you by feeding their dreams, and when their soul soars, you will have the experience of riding the air with them.
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